Cheese & Wine
Cornwall is well known for its world class dairy products. Davidstow Cheddar is a treasured Cornish cheese because it is the direct result of our unique micro-climate, skilled cheese-graders and time spent maturing. The milk use for Davidstow is rich in fats because we have the perfect weather to grow lush green grass. Under the Cornish sun and with a generous annual rainfall the grass provides rich pasture for the county’s proud dairy farmers. Surprisingly another plant that thrives on the Cornish Riviera is the grape. There are now a few notable British success stories where farmers have diversified to start growing their own vineyards on south-facing slopes over-looking the coast. This month I’ve travelled to meet John and Kim Coulson who after many years trading as fish merchants in Newlyn needed a new adventure. After growing flowers on a farm near Penzance and following some advice from Bob Lindo of Camel Valley vineyard, they decided to change tack and plant their own vines creating their very own Cornish Vineyard. They harvested their first grapes for wine back in 2006 and have been making award-winning wine ever since. Top quality cheese and wine both take time to perfect. The combination of Davidstow Cheddar and Polgoon wine works together on the palate to deliver an unforgettable taste experience.
Walking around the vineyard today John shares his passion and enthusiasm for producing good wine and highlights the difficulties associated with harvesting, the impact of the weather and general need to change the consumers’ preconception about British wine. John explains how like many artisan businesses Covid19 has hit them hard but things are still looking bright for the future. Polgoon Vineyard is open to the public again for tours, has a gold award shop with all sorts of wonderful drinks to buy, and they run tastings for the public. Polgoon have also diversified further over the years with a range of Cornish ciders and juices. The cider is produced using the Methode Traditionelle, the same method used by French winemakers to produce sparking wines. I was looking for a wine and cider to build the ultimate Davidstow Cheeseboard and took the advice of John to try their Bacchus and signature Cornish cider.
The maturity and depth of Davidstow 18 month old Crackler is perfect with a crisp white wine and I heavily recommend trying this combination! The Polgoon bacchus is full of character with exuberant aromas of lime zest and freshly cut grass on the nose. Elderflower and gooseberry notes on the palate and a zippy finish. If you are not a wine drinker then Polgoon Cider is a ploughman’s treat – the lightly sparkled apple cider delivers a refreshing clean, crisp and dry apple flavour. Serve ice cold with chutney and crackers – plus a generous wedge of Davidstow cheddar for a celebration of autumn.
Davidstow Cheese board tips
- Remove your Davidstow cheddar from the fridge at lest 30 minutes before you intend to serve so that the complex flavour compounds can really be appreciated.
- Try serving your cheese board with fruit to complement our creamy cheddar and the sweet, acidic element contrasts nicely with our cheddar — grapes, apples, figs and pear are our favourites.
- Garnish with edible flowers for a burst of colour – remember we eat with our eyes! Try nasturtium, borage, marigold, chive or fennel flowers.
- Include texture with crackers, bread sticks or crisp breads. Alternatively crisp apple slices work well for a bit of bite.
- Provide a sweet and sour taste on the board with pickled vegetables, fruit cheese or home made chutney.
- Allow your cheese board to be rustic and encourage sharing with your family – so don’t worry if parts of it spill over onto the table but still arranged with a delicate touch. Place ingredients so that they appear to have fallen that way.
- Serve a recommended wine or Cornish cider to enhance the palate and cleanse allowing better cheese tasting.
- Have fun and be creative with your cheese course. Consider serving on vine leafs or wooden boards for an informal end to a meal and a celebration of great local food.
- Include a selection of other great cheeses alongside Davidstow Cheddar, maybe a soft brie or mould-ripened cheese, a blue and a goats cheese.
- If you are socially distant dining then try creating individual cheese plates to enjoy alfresco.
- Grow your own garnish – there is nothing better than including some herbs or salad from the garden so that you feel you really own your cheese-board and it
James Strawbridge is the author of The Artisan Kitchen and Davidstow Cheddar’s Cornish development chef.
Davidstow Cheddar visits Polgoon Vineyard